NBC's entire fall slate is pretty much riding on Undercovers being a megahit (and if that doesn't work, there's always The Event!), so the show's two stars, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe, recently participated in a media call to address all kinds of insider info about the new show. No one had the guts to ask them their odds on early cancellation (I'll admit, even I was too afraid), but it's still sort of interesting. Highlights below.
How many languages do each of you actually speak?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Well personally, I speak little bits of everything, but I don't speak anything other than English fluently. But Boris is much more talented in that department.
Boris Kodjoe: No, I just speak a couple. I speak German. That's my mother language, and French was the second one, and then I learned Spanish when I was traveling. And, the last one, I guess, was English.
How does one prepare to play a spy?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: It was tricky to do a lot of research before we started, because it was a very rapid process. But we did do physical training for some of the fight sequences with the stunt coordinators. And we had multiple kinds of other examples of spy shows and the spy genre to kind of draw on as well.
Boris Kodjoe: J.J. made a point of saying that he wanted me to turn into a fighter, so that the choreographers had an easier time to choreograph certain elements of the fight, and I would be able to adapt quickly.
Do you do a lot of the stunt work yourself?
Boris Kodjoe: We work closely with the stunt team, but I would say we do 99% of our own stunts. The only time they jump in is when there's a time conflict, meaning when we work on two units and we have to get stuff done. And if there's a wide shot of a guy climbing on top of a truck or something, that can be done by somebody else, they'll take care of that. But I must say Gugu is quite the action hero on, like, 5-inch heels.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: We were just doing some stunts last night actually. So yeah, we pretty much do most of our own stunts. It's better for everybody, really. It helps the continuity, and it's fun.
Boris Kodjoe: And it makes it easier for the director to cut back and forth.
What makes J.J. Abrams so special?
Boris Kodjoe: I think he's one of the only, or one of the few, filmmakers and producers in Hollywood that enjoy complete creative freedom. And when you have that, when you've earned that, I think it gives you wings to create. When you're somebody who has a project that's been sort of controlled by networks and studios, and there's 28 people on the set looking over your shoulder at all times, it makes it pretty hard to be free.
And also, he's like a kid in a candy store, you know. He really loves what he's doing. He comes to set every day with a huge smile on his face, and he never settles. In the end, he always gets what he wants. And that's what makes him so special.
Were you concerned at all about not having the right chemistry with each other?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: We were fortunate enough to audition together, which was great, because we got a chance to work with each other. And also the scripts themselves are full of such brilliant dialogue. Josh and J.J. have created a really great rhythm and banter between all the characters. So, no.
Boris Kodjoe: And we get to spend a lot of time together, and we both grew up in a similar environment in Europe. And so we have that that we definitely share, you know, in terms of mentality and just sensibility. So it was easy. And thank God she's not an asshole, so it's easy to get along with her.
Tell us what you think of Undercovers, then check out our list of the greatest spy couples of all time!
Watch TWoP's editors discuss this fall's best new TV shows in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
Want to immediately access TWoP content no matter where you are online? Download the free TWoP toolbar for your web browser. Already have a customized toolbar? Then just add our free toolbar app to get updated on our content as soon it's published.
MOST RECENT POSTS